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03 April 2012

The Telegraph

If exercise is the key to health and happiness, then waiters must be the most contented workers around.

A new study has found table staff take more than double the daily recommended number of steps, making it the most active profession.

Nurses came second in the survey, about 6500 steps behind waiters and waitresses, followed by retail workers.

Call centre employees are the least active with office workers just a few paces ahead.

Ten people from 10 different professions - including teachers, hairdressers, farmers and mothers - were given pedometers by weight loss company Jenny Craig to keep track of how much incidental exercise they got on an average work day.

The study found waiters walked an average of 22,778 steps compared to 6618 steps by call centre workers.

The recommended healthy target for adults is 10,000 steps a day and to lose weight, people should walk about 12,000 to 15,000 steps each day.

Accredited practising dietitian and Jenny Craig consultant Karen Inge said there were health concerns for people who sit down for long periods of time. "They probably have a greater chance of being overweight because they're not burning kilojoules," Ms Inge said.

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"If people can't really move while at work, they should make a concerted effort to set aside an hour a day to get the physical activity they need for their health."

Head of physical activity at Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, David Dunstan, said about 50 to 65 per cent of a person's waking hours was sedentary, which adds up to about seven to 10 hours a day.

Associate Professor Dunstan said our time was split between this sedentary (or sitting) time, incidental exercise, classed as light intensity physical activity, and moderate to vigorous physical activity, which usually only takes up about 5 per cent of a person's day.

"Basically people are sitting longer than they are sleeping," Prof Dunstan said.

"Our general message is stand up, sit less and move more, more often," he said.

Sydney's Aqua Dining Restaurant waiters Laura Riddle, 20, and Brian Thompson, 25, aren't surprised their profession topped the list.

They said they were always on their feet and were constantly on the move.

"We never sit down. There's no reason for us to sit down at any particular time because our work requires us to always be on our feet," Ms Riddle said.

"It's definitely not a sit-down job. You're barely ever standing still, just constantly in motion," she said.

Nurses were second on the list, doing about 16,390 steps, followed by retail workers (14,660 steps), farmers (14,037), mothers (13,813), teachers (12,564), tradesmen (11,585), hairdressers (9209) and office workers (7570).

Profession and average steps per day:

Waiters - 22,778

Nurses - 16,390

Retail workers - 14,660

Farmers - 14,037

Mothers - 13,813

Teachers - 12,564

Tradesmen - 11,585

Hair dressers - 9209

Office workers - 7570

Call centre workers - 6618

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